All Saints Steam Academy International_Space_Station_after_undocking_of_STS-132

Newport Public Schools has announced that Pell Elementary School has been chosen as the first public school in Rhode Island to host a student-led “space chat” with the International Space Station (ISS) during the second half of 2018.

Pell submitted a detailed educational proposal in November supporting its bid, it was announced on January 19th that Pell Elementary School had been chosen as one of 13 U.S. semifinalists to host a student-led “space chat” with the International Space Station (ISS) during the second half of 2018.

“We’re all thrilled and our students will be looking forward to this exceptional learning opportunity,” says Pell principal Traci Westman in a news release. The contact is being arranged through the multinational Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) project which links schools around the globe with opportunities to speak with astronauts aboard the ISS. In 2017 ARISS held 25 events with U.S. hosts and another 40 events for schools outside the U.S.

Pell Elementary’s proposal — drafted by STEM teachers Mary Nordby and Lori Delemos — demonstrated that it could integrate the contact into schoolwide educational plans and had strong potential to draw a large audience. Voice contacts with the ISS use FM amateur radio frequencies and last about 10 minutes — the average length of an orbital pass —giving approximately 20 students a chance to interact with the astronaut in a rapid-fire, question and answer format.

For help with related after-school activities and event production, the school has teamed with Copernicus STEAM Learning Lab, Rhode Island STEAM, and the Newport County Radio Club. ARISS contacts afford students an opportunity to learn first-hand from astronauts what it is like to live and work in space and about ISS research. Students also will have an opportunity to learn about satellite communication and other wireless technologies. The goal is to inspire students to pursue interests and careers in science, technology, engineering, arts/humanities, and math.